Recent advances in SCADA and leak detection system technologies lead to higher scan rates and faster model speeds. As these model speeds increase and the inherent mathematical uncertainties in implicit method solutions are reduced, errors and uncertainties in measurement of the physical properties of the fluids transported by pipeline come to dominate the confidence calculations for computer generated leak alerts in the control center.

The ability to collect more data must be supported by the need for better model data in order to achieve optimal leak detection system performance. This is particularly true when the products transported are non-homogeneous and have strong viscosity-vs-temperature relationships. These are characteristics of crude oils in California’s San Joaquin Valley where significant heating is required to pump these oils in an efficient manner. Proper characterization and correct mathematical expression of these physical properties in leak models has become critical.

This paper presents these new developments in the context of an implementation of this new technology for the Pacific Pipeline System (PPS). PPS is a recently constructed and commissioned 209 km (130-mile), 50.8 cm (20″) diameter, insulated, hot crude oil pipeline between the southern portion of California’s San Joaquin Valley and refineries in the Los Angeles basin. Operational temperatures in this line vary from ambient to 82.2°C (180°F) with pressures ranging from 345 kPa (50 psi) to 11,720 kPa (1700 psi). Due to the unique geometry of the line, facilities along the route include pumping stations, metering stations and numerous “throttle-type” pressure reduction facilities.

On PPS, a high-speed leak detection model is supported by a fiber optic (OC-1) communication backbone with data rate capacities in excess of 50 Megabits Per Second (MPS). Total scan times for the distributed communication system have been reduced to 1/4 second — each facility reports data to the SCADA host four times each second. A corresponding 1/4 second leak detection model cycle leads to selection of Methods of Characteristics segments on the order of 260 meters (850 feet). This resolution, in conjunction with the advanced instrumentation package of PPS, makes detection of very small leaks realizable.

This paper starts with an overview of the system and combines a mix of the theoretical requirements imposed by the mathematical solutions with a practical description of the laboratory procedures and propagated experimental errors. The paper reviews temperature-related errors and uncertainties and their influence on leak detection performance.

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